What you need to know about compensation in Georgia after a fatal truck accident
The trucking industry plays a vital role in the American economy. The vast majority of goods and raw materials are transported across America via trucks and rigs. In addition to ferrying goods across the nation, trucking provides a livelihood to many households. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 3.5 million Americans work as truck drivers.
However, driving an 18-wheeler, semi or commercial truck for long hours is a dangerous occupation. Given the size and weight of such large trucks, collisions and crashes can be fatal. If you lost a loved one in a fatal truck accident caused due to another person’s negligence, you may have the right to seek compensation for wrongful death.
Common causes of fatal truck wrecks
Trucks are larger and much heavier than most passenger vehicles. The size and weight restrictions are provided by a mix of federal regulations and state laws. In Georgia, the state laws limit the length to 75 feet. When fully loaded, some trucks weigh as much as 80,000 pounds.
Below are some of the most common causes of fatal truck wrecks:
- Fatigued drivers who drive for long distances with little rest
- Poor maintained vehicles, especially weak braking systems
- Inadequately trained drivers
- Distracted, drunk or drugged commercial truck drivers
- Improper cargo loading that does not adhere to weight, size and hazardous cargo regulations
- Speeding and overtaking in an attempt to meet deadlines
Who is eligible for wrongful death benefits?
If the truck driver is killed on the job, then their spouse, children or family will typically go through the workers’ compensation system to file a death claim with the trucking company or the driver’s employer.
However, if the person killed in a truck accident was someone other than the truck driver, then the family members of the deceased may be able to file a wrongful death claim. The purpose of such claims is to compensate the living relatives to help them cope with financial hardships due to losing their loved one.
However, only certain people can file wrongful death suits in Georgia.
Spouse and children of the deceased
If the deceased driver was married, their spouse is given priority over all other relatives. The argument is that they were the most dependent on the deceased. The spouse can also file a wrongful death suit on behalf of the deceased’s children under the age of 18.
Parents of the deceased
If the deceased was not married or had no children, the rights to file a wrongful death claim are transferred to their surviving parents. Dependent parents can file a wrongful death claim on their deceased child’s behalf.
Estate representatives are usually named in the last will. They carry out the wishes of the deceased in regards to distributing the assets. They can also file the wrongful death on behalf of the loved ones. Any compensation from the claim will be distributed to the surviving family members. If a will was left but no estate representative was named, the court can appoint an estate representative.
Filing for wrongful death in Georgia
When a person dies due to a negligent truck driver or company and there is a valid wrongful death claim, the insurance company that represents the trucking company will typically try to settle. It’s vital that you speak to a reliable wrongful death lawyer before signing any paperwork. Make sure the lawyer is independent and is not affiliated with the trucking company.
The statute of limitations of wrongful death claims in Georgia is 2 years from death. However, it can be tolled (paused) for 5 years if the deceased hasn’t gone to the probate court.
For you to win a wrongful death claim, you must prove that the defendant was negligent. A trucking company is guilty if they failed to properly train the driver or maintain the truck, or if they pushed the driver to exceed regulatory standards and driving limits.
It may be necessary to file a suit against a third party, such as a part manufacturer. For instance, if a company supplied defective braking systems, they may be held liable for the death.
Compensation and damages for wrongful death
Suppose the court determines that the deceased’s fatal injuries were due to negligence or criminal act. The responsible party compensates the families of the deceased. While it is impossible to assign a monetary value to human life, the family should be compensated in the best way possible to ease their financial burden.
The main types of wrongful death compensation available to the families of truck accident victims include the following:
Full value of life damages
Full value is divided into economic and non-economic damages. The economic values look at how much money the deceased would have made had they lived out their full natural life. This includes earnings, pensions and other benefits.
On the other hand, non-economic value compensates the deceased’s family for intangible losses, such as pain, anguish and loneliness.
When filing for a wrongful death lawsuit, it should be accompanied by an estate claim. This claim seeks compensation for expenses that the deceased family may have incurred due to the injuries and eventual death.
It covers medical expenses resulting from injuries sustained, funeral and burial costs and intangible damages such as pain and suffering. Estate claims are easier to prove if the records of the expenses were kept.
Talk to a Macon truck accident lawyer today
Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult things you face. On top of your grief, you might be facing tremendous financial pressure if the person was the breadwinner or main income-earner of the family. Although no amount of money can bring back your loved one, compensation can help your family transition through this hard time and give you some measure of justice and closure.